Gates attacks antitrust lawsuit in NY address

Bill Gates has attacked the US Government antitrust lawsuit against his company, calling it a mistake because the Windows operating system's dominance in the PC market is not assured and faces challenges.

"The current operating system we're selling won't be adequate for the demands of the future," Gates said, speaking at New York-based think-tank, The Manhattan Institute.

There are "five or six things" that will happen over the next 20 years that will cause Microsoft to radically alter the operating system itself, Gates said. Though the PC model of computing and the way the operating system is distributed may not change, "even if we call it Windows, the code in there will have to change dramatically". People will have much higher standards for computing technology, he said, expecting things like speech recognition and more readable formats for computer-generated text "where you don't get a lot of strange error messages".

The fact that America Online is paying billions of dollars for Netscape Communications shows that competitors to Microsoft, who are vying to reach the public with new, easier-to-use technology, can still create value for themselves and the industry, Gates said.

Asked whether he thought the government's antitrust case was a misguided attempt to knock down a company that had become too rich and powerful, Gates replied, "I can't delve into their mental process, there's many paths to making a mistake".

But despite his lambasting of the antitrust efforts against Microsoft, Gates did allow for a governmental role in technology. "Clearly the government has a role. There are issues that are essentially political issues," he said. One important political issue is privacy. "Should your employer be allowed to see your criminal record?" Gates asked.

But there is one area that the government should definitely not touch, Gates said "The government does not need to set standards, that is one thing for sure. Internet standards are moving so fast, I dare any government to keep up with them."

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Marc Ferranti

PC World

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